Harvey Mudd College has appointed award-winning student advocate Sumun Pendakur as its new associate dean for diversity.
Pendakur will lead the Office of Institutional Diversity and focus on campus-wide efforts related to access, equity, inclusion and social justice education.
“Sumi is no stranger to the Claremont Colleges. Most recently, she was the keynote speaker at this year’s consortium-wide Asian Pacific Islander Graduation ceremony,” said Maggie Browning, vice president for student affairs and dean of students. “She brings a wealth of experience in supporting and advocating for students, developing innovative and successful programs and employing assessment in the pursuit of excellence.”
Pendakur previously served as the director for Asian Pacific American Student Services at the University of Southern California. In 2011, she won the USC Remarkable Women Award and the USC Rossier School of Education Dissertation of the Year Award. In 2007, Pendakur received the LGBT Service Award for outstanding dedication and commitment to the USC LGBT community.
She also helped develop USC’s Project ReMix, a program that offers monthly events to explore the multiracial generation and provides a space where multiracial and other students can learn and talk about the issues and experiences of those from bi-racial and multiracial backgrounds. In 2010, she won the NASPA Gold Excellence Award in the Multicultural and Inclusion category for her work on the project.
“Some folks look at diversity as a weakness and I look at it absolutely as a strength.
With diversity in background comes the richness in experience that can come here,” said Pendakur, who describes herself as a feminist, an Asian American woman of color and the daughter of immigrants. “I was drawn to the associate dean position when I saw that [HMC] had embedded it as a partnership relationship with the associate academic dean for diversity. To have someone in student affairs and someone in faculty affairs, working together, that demonstrated to me a real commitment to diversity on the part of the institution.”
Recently, Pendakur completed a six-year term as board secretary for the South Asian Network, a grassroots, Southern California nonprofit, dedicated to the health and empowerment of South Asians. She also published her first chapter with her brother, Vijay Pendakur, entitled, “Let’s Get Radical: Being a Practitioner-Ally for Asian Pacific Islander American College Students,” in Amy Agbayani and Doris Ching’s (Eds.), Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Higher Education: Research and Perspectives on Identity, Leadership, and Success.
Pendakur earned her bachelor’s degree in history and women’s studies from Northwestern University, her master’s degree in higher education administration from the University of Michigan and her doctorate in higher education leadership from the University of Southern California.